A virtual assistant is a contractor who supports businesses, legal offices, medical facilities and large corporations. This professional usually works from home and performs a variety of different tasks that can include Internet research, writing, editing, bookkeeping, marketing support, spreadsheet preparation, transcriptions or any other Internet or secretarial service. According to Entrepreneur magazine, the virtual assistant industry is becoming very popular among men and women who want to achieve a work/life balance that allows them to attend to family as well as work responsibilities. Becoming a virtual assistant requires little in the way of start-up costs, but does require a thorough knowledge of computers and technology devices.
Prepare a good marketing strategy and business plan for your virtual assistant business. Know that becoming a virtual assistant will take time and work. Many virtual assistants often work between 14 and 18 hours a day in their start-up phase. Even after establishing their company, many owners still work long hours, including weekends and holidays. However, as a VA, you can set your own work schedule and work nights, early mornings or during the hours that best suit your lifestyle.
Choose a name for your business and register the name with your state's Secretary of State. Select two to three business name options, and check with your appropriate state agency to make sure the name is not being used by any other business. Purchase a domain name that reflects your VA business. All professionals in this field should have their own website because it reflects their professional attitude toward their work.
Read up on your area of expertise and other areas that pertain to the virtual assistant job activities. Topics could include search engine optimization, Web content writing, transcribing practices, and general information on finance, business and health topics. This type of information will help you offer a valuable specialized service to your clients.
Update your resume and focus on virtual assistant skills. Be sure to list typing, writing, database construction, sales, search engine optimization and any other pertinent skills you have. Be sure to mention your educational background and any other related experience you have. Prepare a PowerPoint, writing, blog and database sample that you can send to potential clients.
Sign up and complete your profile on freelance websites like Odesk, Freelancer or Elance (see Resource section). Freelance websites will help you find clients, especially if you do not have any. Attach a copy of the resume to the freelance profile. Take any available tests that will help demonstrate your proficiency. View different work categories to look at job opportunities you are capable of completing. Bid on jobs to get work experience. Wait for a job offer and complete the project in the time specified. This way, you will get a positive recommendation from the client.
Contact the human resources departments in local businesses and corporations and offer your virtual assistant services. Call your Better Business Bureau and ask for a list of local businesses. Ask potential clients to contact you if they have any projects that can benefit from your services.
Locate and purchase Web hosting for your virtual assistant website. Choose an inexpensive hosting plan as this type of website does not need a lot of space. Look for a website template that reflects your business. Free website templates can be found at websites like Free Website Templates, Free Web Templates or Global Templates (see Resource section). Download the template of your choice and either hire a website designer to upload the template, or learn to upload it on your own Web hosting service.
Add information about your business, the type of services you offer, estimated time of delivery and fee to your website. Include a page containing samples of your work or links to samples of your work. You may also want to include client testimonials on your website. Be sure your contact information is visible on all the pages of your website, so potential clients will not find it difficult to get in touch.
Take Web marketing classes or any other type of class that will help you in your virtual assistant business. Apply the principles you learn to your own website. You can find classes to help develop your skills online at universities or specialized training websites like SEO TrainingSW or SEOJunkies ( see Resource section). The courses you take will depend on your specialized area.
Market your website on social media networks by applying search engine optimization skills you learn and by advertising your services on bulletin boards and freelance websites.
Jennifer Moore began writing in 2006, specializing in Web content, blogs and forum postings. She is a graduate from the most prestigious university in Mexico, Universidad de Las Americas, with a B.A. in international relations, later obtaining a U.S. teacher's degree and an additional CompTIA A+ certification in computer technology. Moore has written for My Mexico Living, BoomersAbroad and various other websites.